The 2022 NFL Season is nearly upon us. As part of the run up to the season, we’re preview all the teams, culminating with our picks for who makes the playoffs and who wins the awards this season. Check back each day through September 5. Let’s get ready for some football!
The Colts have been trying to solve the riddle at quarterback since Andrew Luck retired. The team turned to Jacoby Brissett for a season, Philip Rivers for a year and then Carson Wentz in 2021. It seemed doomed early on as Wentz was injured in camp. The Colts stumbled out of the gate, going 0-3. The team rallied and went into the final week of the regular season at 9-7 with a shot at the playoffs. The Colts lost to the lowly Jaguars, finishing 9-8 and missing the post-season. That, as it turned out, was enough for the Colts to move on from Wentz, trading him to the Washington Commanders in the off-season. Now, entering 2022, the Colts will have their fifth starting quarterback in as many years, but will this prove the right formula to make a playoff run?
As mentioned, Wentz was dealt to Washington after one year with the Colts. In his place, Coach Frank Reich is turning to another veteran as the Colts traded for former Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan spent his entire career with the Falcons, throwing for 59,735 yards and 367 touchdowns. He’s been a winner, making the Pro Bowl four times and guiding the Falcons to the Super Bowl following the 2016 season. After a few lean years, the Falcons moved into re-build and dealt Ryan to the Colts, where he could be the missing piece for a team with talent all over the field.
The Colts saw several veterans depart this off-season. Running back Marlon Mack signed with the Texans, receiver Zack Pascal headed to the Eagles and veteran tight end Jack Doyle retired. In addition, TY Hilton remains unsigned. But the Colts began to re-load, bringing in Ty’Son Williams and Phillip Lindsay at running back and signing veteran cornerback Stephon Gillmore.
In the draft, the Colts didn’t have a First-Round pick but used a Second-Round pick and three Third Round picks to address key areas. With their three picks in the Third Round, to grab a safety in Nick Cross, a tackle in Bernhard Raimann and a tight end in Jelani Woods. But their big selection was Cincinnati receiver Alec Pierce, snagged in the Second Round. Pierce caught 106 passes for 1,851 yards and 13 touchdowns in three seasons and figures to be a big focus of the offense.
With a dearth of weapons, Ryan fell to QB20 in 2021. I think he’ll fare better in 2022, but I still like him as a high-end QB2, similar to where Wentz landed as QB14 in 2021 with the Colts. In the backfield, it’s all about Jonathan Taylor. He was RB1 in 2021 and remains a Top 3 option at the position. Nyheim Hines is a solid contributor, too. I suspect he’ll finish in the RB3/4 range for the team.
In the passing game, the top option in Michael Pittman, Jr. He’s currently going as WR13 but I like him to finish inside the Top 10 as a WR1. He’s the main weapon in the passing game. Behind him are some questions. Pierce has potential, as does Parris Campbell who has struggled to stay healthy the past three seasons. Both should be involved, but it’s hard to trust either as more than a WR4 at this point. Pierce is the best bet. At tight end, Woods will be competing with veteran Mo Alie-Cox. I suspect Alie-Cox is a low-end TE2 at best.
I like the Colts’ talent and I like their chances in a weaker division. I think Ryan is the missing piece to push them back to the 11-win range, taking the AFC South and making a return to the playoffs.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.